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Google Pays Tribute to Julius Richard Petri With Animated Doodle

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Today’s Google Doodle is a cute animated tribute to Julius Richard Petri, the bacteriologist credited with inventing the Petri dish

Born in 1852 in Barmen, Germany, Petri received his medical degree from Berlin’s Kaiser-Wilhelm Academy for Military Physicians in 1876. For the following two years, he worked in the Imperial Health Office in Berlin, where he became an assistant to Robert Koch.

It was there that he invented the Petri dish, a shallow glass container that biologists use to culture…

Could SOPA Rise From the Dead?

The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act may have been the two most hated bills in recent legislative history and now they’re dead. Or are they?

Congressman Lamar Smith “postponed consideration” of SOPA after the Senate postponed the similar PIPA legalization. Does a postponement mean death? Is tabling a bill the same as sealing it in a mahogany box and burying it six feet underground?

“I think that it is dead,” said SUNY Geneseo Political Science Dept. Professor and Chair Jeffrey Koch, Ph.D. But then he added, “It’s dead for the rest of the year. Especially in an election year; anything that generates this level of controversy.”

To understand the legislative process, Koch explained, one needs to know that most bills fail. They’re assigned to committees and then they die a rather quiet death. In fact, most legislators who introduce bills already know this, though Koch thinks its unlikely the authors of SOPA and PIPA thought their bills would die right away.

So the bills are dead and unlikely to return in 2012. What makes Koch think they could rise from their murky graves in 2013 or beyond?

“There are bills that do come back,” he said. In fact, “Many bills that do become laws were introduced in many previous Congresses.” He cites health care as an example: Congress has been wrangling over health care legislation for almost a century. And as we all know, a health care bill did finally pass both chambers; President Obama signed it into law in 2010.

It’s simply not unusual for bills on certain issues to get “introduced again and again and again over time,” Koch told Mashable.

Similarly on the topic of these SOPA and PIPA bills, he said it’s unlikely that they’re dead for all time. The reality is that while most people enjoy the openness and ubiquity of the Internet, piracy is real, is costing people money — and this means, Koch said, “I can’t imagine that it’s going to go away so easily.”

Still, legislating a global entity like the Internet is no simple task. Piracy can start far outside U.S. jurisdiction and, Koch told us, “U.S. law can only reach so far.”

Professor Koch offered no opinion on the contents of the bills — but agreed that they were hard to read, and needed a simplified version.

“They’re written in a very technical legalese,” he said. “That has been the case for quite a while. Most bills these days are that way. Particularly if they do deal with something that is a technical issue, and there are a lot more bills like this as society has become more technical and the issues become more technically complex.”

To review, then: SOPA and PIPA are dead, but only in the way a zombie is dead.

They or something like them will rise up again in 12 months. The new bills may even start dragging themselves around the halls of congress right after the November’s presidential election. Future versions will likely try to address the same persistent issue of piracy, and they will be just as hard to read and understand as today’s “dead” versions of SOPA and PIPA.

SEE ALSO: Facebook ‘Relieved’ That SOPA Is Dead

May 12: PIPA introduced

The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011), better known as PIPA was introduced into the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The act’s goals were described by its sponsors as protecting intellectual property and punishing foreign sites who post copyrighted material. If a site was discovered doing so, the U.S. attorney general could order U.S. based Internet service providers, search engines, payment systems and advertising networks to suspend doing business with the website.

Photo courtesy Mikedish on Flickr

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